2020 has been a year of increased stress for many of us. Things always feel more stressful when we can’t change our outer circumstances. That feeling of helplessness and being at the mercy of a situation exacerbates a difficult time.
In scientific terms, stress is usually explained in terms of the body’s automatic response to a perceived threat, the famous ‘fight, flight or freeze’ reaction. This is instigated by parts of the brain (amygdala and hypothamalus) which set off a cascade of chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol which prepare the body to respond to a threat. The sympathetic nervous system is activated and the digestive system and immune system are put on pause. The heart rate and blood pressure increase. This is all very helpful if we need to take physical action but for most of us, perceived threats cannot be responded to by physically running away or punching something. The body’s response has become inappropriate to our modern day lives and when stress builds up and becomes chronic, our physical and mental health suffers.
In terms of how stress feels to us subjectively, it can of course result in physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, digestive upsets, headaches and sleep problems. We feel stressed when we have too much of an emotion over a long period of time – too much anxiety, too much frustration, too much hopelessness, being overexcited. There is no break and no release.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), feeling stressed is a sign that the Liver meridian and organ system is unbalanced. This ‘stagnating’ energy (qi) needs to be moved to ensure health in the body and mind.
Scientific studies have shown that the ‘relaxation response’ counterbalances the stressful ‘fight/flight/freeze’ response. The parasympathetic nervous system can be activated and bring the body back into ‘rest and digest’ mode. The relaxation response can be activated by many well-documented modalities, for example, breathing techniques, prayer, yoga, qigong, and of course EFT. Many studies have shown that EFT can be very helpful for reducing stress. This is measured both subjectively using questionnaires about a person’s thought patterns and feelings, and also by measuring levels of biological stress markers such as cortisol and Heart Rate Variability.
EFT also directly moves qi and releases qi stagnation in the meridians by tapping on acupressure points.
By regularly practising EFT tapping, you can start to empty your ‘stress bucket’ so that the stress doesn’t reach the point of overflowing the bucket, or overwhelming you so that you feel unable to cope. EFT can keep the level nice and low by providing plenty of holes for the stress to drain away.
Quite simply, people feel better after doing EFT! It is easy to learn the basics yourself (although it’s a good idea to consult an EFT practitioner if you have specific problems to work through or run into blocks that you feel stuck with tapping on your own.) Practising EFT can help you feel empowered when faced with a stressful situation. It can help clear your system of excess stress chemicals and stagnant qi. It can also clear your mind to allow new ideas, insights and perspectives to arise that could help you to deal better with a problem.
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